Monday, September 6, 2010
Vintage Facebook – Didn’t We Already Try This?
It was six years ago, my freshman year in college, when Facebook hit college campuses, and I got hooked along with the rest of my collegiate cohorts. But amongst the social, informational and emotional benefits of Facebook, we dug the fact that it was just for us college kids. Friends and siblings still stuck in high school weren’t allowed to join the Facebook ranks until they experienced the rite of passage into college. Better yet, our parents and other adult authority figures couldn’t tap into the social world we’d created. It was a club. And the exclusivity made it cool.
It only took a year before our sweet reign over the Facebook kingdom ended and FB expanded to the entire world. The college members-only social platform of my heyday is now a thing of the past. But wait! Meet CollegeOnly, a new social network that is reintroducing the college-only social networking site. Mashable sat down with creator Josh Weinstein, a New York-based entrepreneur – creator of other college-centric social networking sites RandomDorm and GoodCrush – who explained that he saw a gaping hole that was never filled after Facebook went global. “Facebook has changed — for the better,” says Weinstein, “But its original use case is currently unserved, as college students are less likely to upload photos or post what they are up to with parents and potential employers looking on.”
CollegeOnly is an example of how deep diving into a specific target can be more fulfilling with consumers and effective from a brand standpoint than targeting a breadth of communities. CollegeOnly has more specified categories and post capabilities – such as class schedules and insider campus information like which frat throws the best parties. Because it prevents non-college students from accessing the site, students may also be more comfortable posting controversial content that my generation was burned for upon seeing the professional and personal consequences of revealing one’s personal life in a public arena. In many ways, Facebook has become more of a marketing tool that a network to create personal connections and share intimate details with trusted social circles. Of course, this could also bite students in the ass down the road for assuming that posting a picture of a bong rip comes without risks because it is securely locked away in a password protected cloud.
Another interesting consideration is how CollegeOnly will inevitably evolve in the future. Facebook expanded its reach to grow its business and extend its lifespan with consumers. Perhaps CollegeOnly won’t need to broaden its borders as Facebook did because its competitors have the market covered. But the exclusivity of CollegeOnly necessitates extreme privacy settings and restrictions to maintain a tight seal from outsiders. This automatically lends itself to a higher sense of security with users, and therefore, more comfort with the self-disclosure that has waned with Facebook and made the site devoid of some of its original personality and appeal.